Shock Meet Fate in Eight
Not even Ford’s absence, however, can entirely explain how the Shock managed to fall behind at home by so many, so quickly. The Fever grabbed a double-digit lead in the first quarter as the Shock scrambled to adjust and their barrage continued in the second half. Indiana led by 20 points, 71-51, with five minutes to play. Forward Tamika Catchings did it all – 26 points, 14 rebounds, six steals and two blocks – while center Tammy Sutton-Brown exploited the Shock’s interior defense with 17 points.
It was the second lethargic showing in as many days for the Shock, which is surprising considering the Fever have won a league-most nine games and are widely considered the primary threat to Detroit’s championship reign.
“Kind of a carry over from yesterday’s game. We just didn’t have the concentration, or more importantly, we didn’t have the desire to come out and win the basketball game,” Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “That was a little disturbing. I think for our ball club, we just didn’t have the mind-set that we were going to win the game.”
Ford, who had a string of four consecutive double-doubles in points and rebounds, was in street clothes after suffering a left knee sprain in a collision with teammate Swin Cash in the final, game-clinching sequence of the Shock’s Friday night victory over Connecticut. Head trainer Laura Ramus said Ford is “day-to-day” heading into the Shock’s four-game road trip on the West Coast.
Ford’s absence was conspicuous, especially after starting center Kara Braxton picked up two fouls in the first 1:24 and went to the bench. Center Katie Feenstra, who averages eight minutes a game, played eight minutes in the first quarter. She finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Braxton was a non-factor with two points on 0-of-4 shooting and five fouls.
“We all have to pick up our games,” Feenstra said of her teammates in Ford’s absence. Deanna Nolan was the only other Shock player in double figures with 14 points. “When someone’s down, we all have to pick it up a bit. (Cheryl) averages double (digit) rebounds and double points, we have to pick that up to support her. We need to play better as a team, execute our offense, limit our turnovers and do all the little things when she’s out.”
Feenstra’s 25 minutes of action was one of several unfamiliar sights Saturday as Laimbeer tried to find the right mix of players. Laimbeer’s starting lineup consisted of seldom used veteran guard Elaine Powell replacing Ford and Swin Cash moving to the power forward position, where she was 1-for-4 from the field and two turnovers in the first. The rest of the Shock did not fare much better, shooting 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) in the quarter.
“You can make excuses because this is professional sports and everyone has injuries, so our front line got in a little bit of foul trouble and we had to run a little bit of small ball, but we didn’t even look to shoot the shots we would normally take,” Laimbeer said. “That’s what we have to work on, the mental part of the game, of being ready when our time is there.”
The game was tied at 11 when the Fever seized control with a 12-0 run in the middle of the first quarter. Six of the points came off free throws, four by Catchings. The Fever were 10-of-11 on free throws in the first quarter, while the Shock were just 2-of-4.
Catchings scored 14 of her 26 points from the free-throw line, equaling Detroit’s team total.
Indiana led by 11 at halftime, 37-28, and fended off any attempts for Detroit to get much closer than that. K.B. Sharp had a season-high 13 points off the bench, including three 3-pointers in the second half that kept Detroit at a distance. “They made the big plays, no question about that, whether they made the big 3-ball or they got the big rebound or we didn’t make the big shot, and that’s how games are won,” Laimbeer said.
The Shock now head into a four-game trip against the top four teams in the Western Conference, starting Monday night in Los Angeles.
“One loss will show us what we’re made of,” Laimbeer said. “We’ve been riding high here for a while, faced a little adversity here today and didn’t pass the test. So we’re on to L.A., and the start of a four-game road trip on the West Coast with four good teams. Now we’ll see our next test.”